For the past several weeks I have been focusing on ego. In fact it may turn out that I may be focused on ego and learning to controlling it and starving it for the rest of my life. Based on comments by Alex Good, reading several books like the Upanishads, books by David Hawkins and personal reflection I have come to the conclusion that ego is the source of all of our problems-spiritual and otherwise. If we first become aware of the ego, control it and finally kill it we become more and more happy/free until we reach enlightenment (ego death and thus full liberation).
Ego is all about “me”, “us vs. them” and separation. The funny thing is that ego is actually a huge energetic being as we are all actually one. We are like cells in a giant organism and the ego is a large parasite feeding off of that organism. We just view the ego as an individual phenomenon.
In most cases ego, via the mind, controls us. We are often oblivious about when the ego is in action. It is a tricky little bugger because it uses the mind very effectively. We are absolutely awesome at rationalizing our ego and egoic actions.
Ego is the reason that we are afraid of death which is really the reason we have fear in our lives. The ego dies when the body dies. The ego wants to live and feed into the larger energetic organism. For our spirit or soul there really is no such thing as death as the spirit lives forever. Sure the body can die, but not our spirit. This is why enlightened masters don’t give a rats ass about death, they know that there is no such thing as death. The body is not important. One of two things happens when we die: 1) we still have work to do as it relates to karma- we come back to pay our karmic debts, or 2) we have burned through all of our karma and we can return home/become one with the divine (heaven or nirvana).
The ego can also die before our physical body does. Thus the term “killing the ego”. This is an odd term because the word “killing” can lead to the misunderstanding that one day we can wake up knowing how to kill it like we would a spider. This is not the case. We kill the ego in our physical lifetimes by slowly starving it to death.
Starving the ego to death is a looong process. First we have to become aware of what it really is. We often have the misperception that ego just manifests as boastfulness or selfishness. It is true that those types of actions are ego based. However, the ego is much more subtle than that. Some examples of subtle egoic actions are:
- When we talk or think negatively about someone or something. No matter how subtly or softly we do this, we are trying to put ourselves above someone else.
- When we are focused on money. Money is an extension of ego. We use money as a way to separate ourselves from others either through socioeconomic class differences or simply accumulation of material items i.e. this is mine, not yours.
- When we are competitive with others. This is total ego as we are trying to prove that we are better than the other, we are right and they are wrong. The ego loves competition- very yummy, highly charged food for the ego.
- When we talk down to someone else or tell them they should do this/that. Again, this is putting yourself above someone else i.e. I know what “is” and you don’t.
- When we talk about ourselves (both positively and negatively) or ask people to tell us about ourselves i.e. it is all about me.
- Facebook and blogs are all about ego. It is a forum to talk about ourselves.
- In relationships we often become dependent on our partners to validate us, make us feel “loved”, etc… This is all ego.
- Etc… Etc…
If we are not vigilant and do not work on starving the ego through awareness/consciousness we end up capping our spiritual growth. Our narcissistic egoic minds hold us back from realizing what is true and false. In fact approximately 85% of the world population currently does not have the consciousness to determine what is true or false at all (Hawkins).
We can experience spiritual growth only to backslide into the ego based pitfalls of sex, money and power. In fact there are several examples currently and in history where spiritual leaders advance to high levels of consciousness only to fall due to ego i.e. power corrupts. The lack of awareness around ego is a (if not “the”) major spiritual pitfall. Unfortunately the followers of such spiritual leaders often do not have the consciousness to recognize the spiritual fall of their leader (see above- 85% of the world population does not have the consciousness to discern true from false).
How does this post relate to ayahuasca and shamanism??
In my previous posts I have been talking about ayahuasca, shamanism and consciousness. This post adds to that theme.
As I have stated before, here in the Amazon there does not seem to be much focus on raising consciousness through ayahuasca shamanism. The focus is on healing. Of course when one person helps another (healing in this case) their consciousness is raised i.e. Karma Yoga. This is awesome and valid work.
From what I can tell, the attitude in the ayahuasca community is that as long as the ego is at socially acceptable levels, it is ok. There just is no concept of enlightenment nor killing the ego. In some cases I have heard shamans say that the ego is good and that they have a comfortable/controlled relationship with their ego- a perfect example of the mind rationalizing the ego.
Unfortunately, many westerners come to Peru in search of an “Ayahuasca Guru”. There seems to be a subtle myth that shamans are enlightened masters. Yes, there are masters of medicine, but masters of ego…???
To be clear, I am not saying that I have control of my ego. I have just started working on it. The first step to removing the ego is to recognize what it is. Then a vigilant practice of observing/watching the ego rear it’s ugly head is required. Eventually we can stop the ego from gaining control before it happens- this is starving the bugger. This gets easier and easier as the practice continues.
Ayahuasca helps this process by increasing awareness in general. You can also set an intention with ayahuasca to help with starving the ego by asking for help right before drinking your cup. Personally I have asked ayahuasca several times to help me starve the ego. It seems to be working. Ego still pops up in my daily life and I am able to notice it as it pops up. Sometimes I am able to catch it before I say or do something egoic. Sometimes I catch it after the fact. Both are steps to starve the tricky bugger.
Recently I had a vision regarding ego. I was sitting in the bathroom during ceremony and was in full mariacion with visions etc… I noticed a little spirit that had a sharp spear hanging around. I tried to brush it away (it was really small), but it was not going anywhere. So I looked closer….”is that…..the ego??” Immediately I knew it was. It was a small skinny devilish looking guy with a pissed off look on his face. I laughed because I got the feeling and the visual confirmation that he was not eating very well.
For obvious reasons meditation practices are extremely helpful as well (see my previous two posts). I have been good about my practice and I feel that it has been key in starving the little guy.
La Familia Medicina is totally embracing the focus on increasing consciousness and starving the ego. Our site and model will be changing significantly over the next two weeks. Stay tuned!